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What is an undergraduate research symposium and how can one participate?

I’m in college pursuing my undergraduate in engineering. Though I’m just a semester of my course, I find that I have a lot of time. I’m searching for student events suggestions I can participate in to keep myself busy. I was very active in clubs while in high school. However, this time I would like to be involved more in educational events. I would like to know what an undergraduate research symposium is, how I can participate and find out other related information.

James Washington

in Events and Holidays

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Jeremy Wood on May 18, 2018

A research symposium is an event where researchers convene to make presentations and also discuss their work with other professionals or scholars. It provides a platform for researchers to share and learn from each other.

Undergraduate research symposiums are events organized by universities to bring together creative minds with diverse ideas in the institutions. As the name suggests, they are for students in undergraduate programs. You can participate in these events as early as freshman year. There is no set of rules on who should participate, and any interested undergraduate student is welcome to take part.

These symposiums are not just for those students presenting their work but also for students who wish to learn something from the whole experience. Plus, parents, friends, professionals, and researchers mentoring these students are also welcome to attend the event usually held on campus.

The purpose of this educational event is not just for presentation but also discussion. Hence, undergraduate symposiums are also forums for discussions on new research topics by students, faculty members and the community at large. These events, usually held annually, showcase unique and interesting research work from students across all academic subjects.

For medium-sized universities with few campuses across the state, one symposium is usually held to include all research work from the various campus. Hence, students come together in one setting and share ideas. However, larger institutions with campuses within the state and international campuses in other states and countries may create their date and schedule.

The institution usually announces the dates for the year’s symposium at the beginning of the academic year. Such an announcement may come several days before the student event is to take place. Hence, students have ample time to think of a formidable project to work on and register in time to participate. Plus, most of these events may include external partners who must be informed on time.

How to participate:

  • Attend the first symposium as a spectator: attend sessions to see how your fellow students make their presentation, both orally and in visual displays.
  • Make a presentation of your work: usually, the presentation should follow a prescribed format. The first minutes, you can do an oral presentation to introduce listeners to the background of your research focus. Then, follow up with a presentation of your work using visual aids such as posters, data, tables, and pictures. Finish by stating the impact of your work on the community. 

Nicholas Rivera2 years ago

An undergraduate research symposium provides the chance for undergraduate students to share what they have learned in college through research. What I would like to add is that there are benefits for participating in this kind of events:

  • There are awards presented to students that make outstanding research presentations.
  • You get to learn more from other students’ presentations than you could gain in class. Learning is not just in your areas of study but also other interdisciplinary areas.
  • You get the chance to network with other experienced researchers and even receive mentorship. I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of professional networking. A lot of people can attest to having their career pick off from attending these types of events.
  • Your work will be published in the institution symposium journal, and you can use it in future on job resumes or application to grad school. 


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